Voted as ’50 under 50 Most Collectible Artists’ by New York’s Art+Auction magazine June 2013 issue, Indonesian contemporary artist Eko Nugroho is definitely one to watch. He caught the attention of curators and collectors worldwide with humorous parodies of difficult socio-political issues arising after the downfall of Suharto’s regime in the 1990s. Pushing his reflections on human nature to new extremes is “We Are What We Mask”, his latest body of over 70 works produced in five intense weeks at STPI.
‘Obey and Happy’, ‘Fake Democracy’ and ‘Coruption is the New Hope’ are embellished slogans of the artist’s satirical voice weaving through the works, questioning suppressed individuality and veiled hypocrisy in modern society’s landscape of homogeneity and conformity. Eko says, “I think it is becoming more and more difficult for people to be different. Society does not like different… I fear our individuality will end up in vitrines and become a museum exhibit one day.”
“We Are What We Mask” calls us to do a double take on the world – the same way people did when they saw STPI’s workshop and gallery staff appearing on the streets wearing these decorative masks resulting in some absurd situations as witnessed in the large photographs produced for the show.
Influenced by Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling masks, early Islamic head-dress and biohazard protective headgear, these masks are bold and vibrant but underline the dysfunctions of human nature through the concept of concealment or disguise.
Eko’s art has gained wide appeal for its easy accessibility given his comic- and graffiti-inspired iconography. His participation at major international shows this year include, Sakti:Indonesian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Writings Without Borders, Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong, and the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial, curated by Chief Curator Dan Cameron at Orange County Museum of Art, California. He was also commissioned to design a scarf for Louis Vuitton’s Foulards D’Artistes Autumn Winter 2013 collection.
Other notable exhibitions and projects include Fantasy Islands, Louis Vuitton Island Maison, Singapore (2012), Témoin Hybride, the Museum of Modern Art, Paris (2012), a mural project with Le M.U.R Association at 107 Rue Oberkampf, Paris (2012), Transfiguration – Indonesian Mythologies, Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris (2011), The Eko Chamber: Recent Works, The Art Gallery of South Australia (2011), and Snobs Behind Ketchup, Lombard-Freid Projects, New York (2011).
His works can be found in the collections of Singapore Art Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, Queensland Art Gallery, Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, and the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation. The list also includes renowned Indonesian collectors Oei Hong Djien and Budi Tek.